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On the Record with Michelle Halm

Michelle Halm
Michelle Halm

Name: Michelle Halm.

Family: My husband Nate, our son Jack, and our pup Taz.

Occupation: I'm the executive director of the Putnam County Community Center, and I've been here a little over three years.

How has this type of work changed since you began: I wouldn't say the work itself has changed, but it has become extremely financially challenging for Illinois human service providers since I began in 2014. I've also seen much stricter government guidelines for grantees come into play.

What services does the PCCC provide: The PCCC is an Aging & Disability Resource Center that provides an array of services. Some of our main services include information and assistance; community outreach (home visits); free daily meals for those older than 60; transportation; a lending closet (free medical equipment); Medicare counseling; weekly exercise classes, as well as various activities; and entertainment and educational programs.

What do you enjoy about your work: Everything -- I love the seniors and the people I work with. I leave work everyday feeling fulfilled because of what the center does for people.

What's surprised you during your time as director: The lack of importance that is placed on seniors in this country. We'll all be there someday, and I think a lot of people choose to push that thought to the back of their minds because it seems too far off.

What is an event at the center which you've enjoyed: I can't pick one in particular. Our activities director, Shauna Greenwood, does a fantastic job, and I love working with my staff and volunteers at all events and fundraisers.

What challenges does the center face: The biggest challenge the center currently faces is receiving secure funding. Another challenge is bringing in new faces! The stigma of the term "senior center" is unfortunate because we have a lot to offer older adults and strive to enrich their lives with everything we do.

How have you overcome these challenges: Our incredible community has helped us overcome funding challenges in the past, although that challenge is not going away anytime soon. The people of Putnam County have been so generous to us, and they are the reason our doors are still open today. Overcoming the challenge of bringing in new faces will require us to evolve, adapt and accommodate the future generations of seniors.

What would you like to see the PCCC be able to offer in the future: I'd like to see the center continue to offer the services, programs and activities that it does now. In a dream world, we would receive more funding and be able to expand on those things. Being that Putnam County is the smallest in Illinois, I think it's pretty extraordinary that there's a place like this, so I hope it never goes away.

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